Some people like their Passover seders just as they remember them: the same lines recited by the same relatives with the same emphasis, the same songs, jokes and foods, the same delicate glassware that picks up the light in a certain way, reflecting past and present.
Many Jews understand Shabbat as a series of restrictions. But the purpose of all the Thou-Shalt-Nots is to clear a space for the Thou-Shalts and for what is different and sacred about Shabbat. Laws against work, errands and many hobbies preserve Shabbat as a haven from relentless busyness. Shabbat sets aside time to rest and reflect, to reconnect with God, self, family and friends.
I recently increased my odds of renting a quality flick at my local Blockbuster by skipping over the new releases section and checking out a classic: the 1990 Barry Levinson film "Avalon."
An epic story of a Russian Jewish family in Baltimore that abandons its past to assimilate into mainstream American life, "Avalon" traces three generations of the Krichinskys from its immigrant beginnings to the third generation of their American existence.
In 1978, when I first applied to college, I didn't know what I wanted to study as an undergraduate. I left the space blank on the college application form where I was supposed to indicate an intended major. Someone in the admissions office, based on my grade point average and my achievement test scores, took the liberty and placed me in a major called leisure studies.
It's 20-19 in the seventh, two outs, runners on first and third. The unrelenting Valley sun beats down on four-time league champions Temple Judea, who have allowed Kol Tikvah Black to score three runs in the game's final inning and narrow the margin to one. With a clean crack of the bat, the Kol Tikvah hitter connects with the pitch. Victory, bragging rights and synagogue pride cling to the long fly ball. But an outstretched Judea glove snags the fly, and with it the week's win.
Each year I search for ways to make the entire week of Passover come alive for my family -- not just the seders. I get excited about the holiday, always finding a surprise experience to create for my children, depending on their ages and stages. I passionately search the library and Internet, looking for new meanings to the holiday. Each year there is something old and something new at our family seders. I also look for experiences before Passover begins, as well as during the week.
When Daniel Pearl was a baby, his parents noticed a curious omission in his genetic makeup -- he was born entirely without malice.
Of all our family traditions, the Passover seder is the one we look forward to the most. We all fight over who will host it, but no matter, everyone pitches in with the cooking, making sure the seder plate is appropriately filled, the multicourse table properly set. My father and brother, Dennis, share responsibilities for hiding the afikomen and rewarding the lucky child who finds it. Although my father leads the service, with Dennis by his side, all generations participate, down to my 6-year-old granddaughter, Tiara.
Because my ancestors were from Eastern Europe, specifically Latvia, Lithuania and Vilna, I am Ashkenazi. Just as I thought all Jews spoke Yiddish, a language I delight in because it's so colorful, I grew up thinking Jewish cooking was my mother's brisket and carrot tzimmes, my Granny Fanny's chopped liver and my Aunt Dorothy's blintzes with sour cream. That's not to mention the dishes my brothers and I used to giggle about because their names were so amusing -- knaidlach, kreplach and knishes.
Rosalind Glaser Peters died on Jan. 6, 2002, at the age of 91.
She was our "Aishes Chayil," woman of valor, elegance, strength and dignity. The unparalled, articulate, beloved matriarch of our family.
Benjamin Alan Eder died on Dec. 11, 2001, lost at sea along with three other men aboard the F/V Nesika, at age 21.
Among the 91 victims aboard American Airlines Flight 11 was Daniel C. Lewin, (left) chief technology officer of the Cambridge-based Akamai Technologies, Inc., a company that modified the process of Internet content delivery.
For most of the poets and essayists at Lulu's Beehive coffeehouse on Wed., May 16, this was their first public reading of their work. But every one of the readers was already a published author, thanks to Ohmanut, a new Jewish student arts magazine published by Hillel at Pierce and Valley Colleges with a grant from The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance.
A delicious breeze wafted through the white tent erected on the brand-new, football field-sized parking lot of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) on May 14, cooling gowned graduates, faculty, and alumni -- plus a bevy of proud relatives and friends -- as the school awarded degrees to a group of freshly minted Jewish educators and communal service professionals and a clutch of rabbis-to-be.
My fireplace mantle is stuffed &'9;with get-well cards. They come from people I know and many I've never met. One of them might have come from you. In the two months since I started writing about my lung cancer, the cards have been flowing in, plus an equal number or more of e-mails. They touch me deeply.